MBALE – The National Unity Platform (NUP), started as the People Power movement during the controversial debate for amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential age limit.
And what began as a pressure group had won hearts of many sitting members of Parliament on either independent ticket of other political parties and of course new entrants within the same age group.
By the time the National Unity Platform (NUP) went into the Presidential and Parliamentary elections, it was hardly four months since its creation. It had hardly learnt how to crawl when it started standing with minimal support and before long, it was walking and running about much to the dismay and disappointment of those that were born earlier.
NUP’s biggest challenge is that they will not maintain their numbers in parliament; many will be thrown out by court for lack of the requisite academic especially the new entrants.
Be that as it may, close of business on the 14th January, 2021, NUP had signed its name in Uganda’s history books by securing 61 Parliamentary seats.
Many have called it a wave that has distorted historical facts more so that the tsunami has gone to determine winners in the local Council elections. It goes without saying that NUP is now the most dominant opposition party in Parliament with the mandate to decide and appoint leaders of over sight committees reserved for the opposition in parliament.
Article 81 of the 1995 Constitution as amended read together with the Administration of Parliament Act, as amended provides for the leader of opposition and the corresponding privileges. This office is fully funded with a budget and is as good as a cabinet Minister in the ruling Government. Many in the opposition are always eying this position and if not well handled could create cracks in the foundation of NUP.
Ugandans should be reminded that it has been the practice of Parliament to exclusively reserve about 10 positions for the opposition. These include the Leader of Opposition, all the four accountability committees like the Local Government Accounts Committee, Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises as well as the Committee on Government Assurances. The position of Opposition Chief Whip is also reserved for the opposition like the name suggests.
In the last 15 years while FDC was still dominant in Parliament, many of its senior members looked at the choice of opposition leaders as a reward for coming from an area that is loyal to the party and being loyal to the party President. Those left out considered themselves moles within, spies for the other parties and as the term of office of the tenth Parliament comes to an end, there must be a lot of lobbying taking place.
Could the choice of these opposition leaders be based on religious or tribal sentiments, loyalty to the party and the NUP President, appeasement or as a tool to attract areas that did not vote NUP. Formers leaders of opposition in include Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Phillip Wafula Ogutu, Winnie Kiiza and Betty Aol Ochan. It is apparent that we have never had a leader of opposition from Buganda and yet giving it to a Muganda would sound tribal and giving it to a person from Ankole would sound a ridiculous.
So far, those who made it to parliament without any threat of a petition are already positioning themselves for mainly the leader of opposition. How I wish Kasiano Wadri had opted to contest on the NUP ticket, for me he would be my perfect choice but in his absence I will go for Betty Namboze, Muwanga Kivumbi Francis Zaake or any other NUP candidate from Busoga.
For their experience in Parliament for 10 years, Mathias Mpuuga and Medard Sseggona can take up positions in any of the remaining 9 slots reserved for the opposition. Two of the positions should be set aside for the other opposition parties like JEEMA and DP, for they have been good allies for NUP. Any mistakes at the selection could divide the party even before its first birth day.
If it is true that wisdom is given by God, Kyagulanyi and his NUP leaders need to think outside the box if they want to remain relevant on Uganda’s political scene. Many have come so quickly and disappeared the same way. The public support given to Kyagulanyi and his NUP will need constant massaging to remain afloat and this journey starts with how well they manage to share the “loot” of oversight committees. Ugandans rarely enter into permanent marriages, today they are with you tomorrow with somebody else.
The author, Rogers Wadada is a Lawyer/Researcher/Analyst/ Human Rights Activist and Politician